My Hackintosh 6 months in: specs, thoughts and useful links

In the summer of last year, I was in the process of leaving my job to go full-time as an indie. I arranged to keep the mid-2012 MacBook Pro that had served me so faithfully at my old job as a backup machine, but it was starting to show it’s age when running Photoshop or Illustrator. I set about looking for my next workhorse.

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Tracking commits to a GitHub repo with RSS

Watching a repo on GitHub will keep you up to date with it’s issues and pull requests. From time to time there are repos that need a closer eye kept on them though.

I inspected the page of one such repo this afternoon and to my slight surprise found what I was after: an RSS feed. Props to GitHub for going one step further by providing per-branch commit feeds, structured like this:

https://github.com/user/repo/commits/branch.atom

A working example:

https://github.com/elliotekj/specify/commits/master.atom

New about page

I finally took some time this weekend to sit down and write an about page for this site. As part of my continued push for this site to tell a complete story—to document both the personal and professional ups and downs, I forced myself to break out of the boilerplate 3 line about page I’ve some to expect on personal websites:

Hello, my name’s NAME. I work at COMPANY in CITY as a JOB TITLE. Formerly at OLDCOMAPNY and OLDCOMPANY2. Feel free to get in touch.

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Dynamic input values, .value and .getAttribute(‘value’)

There are two ways to go about getting the value of an input with Javascript: .value and .getAttribute('value'). It’s important to know that they weren’t born equal however. It’s easy to be caught out by the fact that whilst .value updates dynamically to match the user’s changes, .getAttribute('value') does not.

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Improving webfont performance with FontFaceObserver and sessionStorage

I spent some time trying to optimise webfont loading on this site yesterday. The current best-practice for most websites leverages FontFaceObserver and sessionStorage.

FontFaceObserver is a fairly small Javascript library made by Bram Stein that will load one or multiple @font-faces, then notify you once they have finished loading via a Promise. sessionStorage is like localStorage except that, as it’s name suggests, it expires at the end of the session. We’ll be using it to keep track of whether or not the fonts have been loaded.

Let’s start by adding the necessary @font-face syntax to our CSS. This site uses Domine, which I self-host. FontFaceObserver is compatible with any webfont service though.

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On importing my old writing

I’ve been going back and forth with myself on this for what feels like an age. When I came back to having everything associated with this domain, including my writing, I started afresh.

The question I’ve been going back and forth on is whether or not I should import my old writing. Having started afresh, I feel like the site no longer tells the full story. Whether we like it or not we are a culmination of the events of our past, and whilst there are posts I’ve written in the past that I regret publishing and/or no longer agree with, redacting or deleting them isn’t going to change the fact that once upon a time I put them out into the world with my name next to them. Doing that feels like I’m being deceitful—first and foremostly to myself.

All that to say that I have now imported all the old posts from casualnotebook.com and all the posts I could find from the first version of elliotekj.com as they were originally published.

Screencast #1: How I manage my dotfiles with GitHub

There are plenty of different ways to manage dotfiles. This screencast shows you how I sync mine across machines via GitHub.

I like this solution because it doesn’t rely on any tools other than Git which is more or less platform-ubiquitous. There’s no need to install other scripts or software and if you’re not a fan of GitHub then you can just as easily use Bitbucket or any other host.

Hacker News commenter StreakyCobra is the brains behind this setup and, as I mentioned in the video, it’s a setup that has served me flawlessly so far.